What Do You Do in Galilee?

followers

“He departed to Galilee…that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet Isaiah…The people who sat is darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” Matthew 4:12-16

Here in Matthew 4:12-16, Jesus started His ministry. It was immediately after His baptism, and then the Bible tells us He began to preach. Jesus ministry began in Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to Capernaum.

Very often the call of God is moving from a place we know into the unknown. It’s a shove of our faith to launch out into the unexpected. Maybe God is moving you from a safe place to a stretch place?

Are you ready?

Whatever the season of life we all start out in Galilee. It’s the first place of ministry. We may not feel prepared but for that place we are. You may not be a polished pastor, a gifted speaker, or a well-worn writer but Galilee is calling you.

Like Jesus, we must go because those folks who are there are either lost (“darkness”) or in the “shadow of death” (maybe of hope) and a new light must dawn. We are the ones who should bring the light of Christ to every ministry God calls us to.

Our text says the people “have seen a great light.” When Saul (Paul) was called, that’s exactly what He saw. However, it’s a humbling call. Paul would later write some of the most beautiful words on God’s call in the Bible:

And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2)

He tells them all I know is Jesus, the Great Light. Then Paul says, I was weak, scared, and didn’t have the right words. Been there?

When God calls us to Galilee, Corinth, or the Church in the Wildwood, we just give them Jesus. In our speech, spirit, and especially in our actions. When Jesus is all we know, then the people will see His light in us.

Are you in Galilee?

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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Pondering before Expressing: “Cross-Trained” before Cultured Trained

Jesus' death requires a personal response and there has to be depth beyond social media.

If you visit social media any time soon, you will be met with scenes of the cross, memes of Jesus’ death on that cross, Scripture verses, church sermons and more … I’m thankful for these times I can log on to social media to be met with posts filled up with Truth, aren’t you?

“He died.” This reality of Jesus’ death as a human being keeps playing in my mind. It is a thought I can not seem to pause so instead I continue to ponder. My pondering leads me down a road of personal experiences with death and how instinctive it is to grieve when death becomes the face of someone we love.

Though everyone grieves differently there seems to be some components of it we all share; the taunting and gut wrenching agony of losing the one we loved, the haunting darkness that encompasses that season of life, the knowing the trajectory of our life will never be what it once was. We grieve in this way because we loved them deeply. This type of grief naturally causes the grieving one to ponder up, in their hearts, the significance of that relationship.

Jesus was a human being, a person. We often talk on his love for us and our love for him. Have we pondered up, in our hearts, his death? “Jesus died on the cross to take away the sins of this world” is a truth painted all throughout the Gospels, but do we feel something about it? His death requires a personal response and there has to be depth beyond social media.

Our intimacy with our Savior has to be more than a Facebook status producing a number of “likes”. This man is the Savior and a relationship with him has to pierce our souls to produce everlasting fruit (John 15). It is like being handed a glass of water when you are parched. Instead of taking the water and gulping it down to quench your thirst, you instead walk around showing everyone you have a glass of water. All the while people are looking at you curious and confused, wondering why on earth you aren’t drinking it then!

Our souls are parched and the quenching happens when this grand narrative of Scripture makes a personal collide with our souls. How is this collide going to start kicking up some dust if we are not taking back our right to ponder things up in our hearts before we express them over social media? Furthermore, how do we even know what to express before we have pondered?

Christians dont worship the Bible by any means, but we believe there is tremendous power in it. We believe it is the revelation of God. We read the Bible because we need an encounter with God; we need to hear His words. These days we are always reading words-scrolling Twitter, reading emails, text messages, and the pretty Instagram quotes. We want quick inspiration. Reading Scripture, however, is slower, quieter work. It takes time, patience, and attention, but if were looking to nourish our souls, nothing can compete with it. (Melissa Moore, Entrusted Bible Study by Beth Moore)

If you don’t mind, I’d like to leave you with a charge. Pondering up Scripture is your right, privilege and responsibility as a Christian. You are entrusted with this right to ponder up Jesus’ death on the cross and I can’t help but ask, have you?

I’m going to borrow a term Beth Moore likes to use here  and that’s being “cross-trained”. As Christians, we have to be cross-trained every time we are culture trained. Culture is training us up to share our thoughts long before we have pondered them up, so what does “cross-training” look like for you this Easter season?

Ponder: to weigh in the mind :  appraise. pondered their chances of success, to think about :  reflect on pondered the events of the day, to think or consider especially quietly, soberly, and deeply

 

pondering with you,

Maria Bowersock

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You can read more from Maria at: www.awomannamedfree.com

God Will Not Fail You or Forsake You

Throne

“The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, ‘I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.’” Psalm 2:4-6

God is on the throne. Terrorism is not the first war He’s seen! It’s not the first time that nations have rebelled against Him. God says, “You have plans to stop My purposes? You take your stand against Me? That’s funny!”

He judges nations. How? Biblical history teaches that God judges nations through other nations. He judged the wickedness of the Canaanites by sending the Israelites to take the Promised Land.

Later, He judged the wickedness of the Israelites by sending Babylon to carry them to captivity. God judges’ nations through nations.

There God sits as Judge over all the world. He’s perfectly aware that all His purposes and plans, despite all opposition, will be accomplished. Psalm 29:10 says, “He sits as King forever.”

All the uproar in the nations doesn’t threaten His plan.

“Behold, they [the nations] belch forth with their mouth; swords are in their lips, for they say, “Who hears?” But You, O LORD, laugh at them; You scoff at all the nations.” Psalm 59:7-8

God sits and laughs! With all earth in rebellion, God remains seated. He has set in process a plan that cannot fail. While there is wildness on the earth, there is wonderful calm in heaven. But even though God sits, He is not a distant, silent, unconcerned spectator.

After all, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

We must remember that. The God of all the earth is on our side. The whole world may come against us, but the King of the universe is in our corner.

He will not fail you or forsake you. God Himself, rules and reigns and there is no one who can stop His plan for this world or your life.

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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Waiting in Harmony

f there is one thing we all have in common, it’s that we hate waiting. We despise it. In our fast-paced digital world, waiting is a monotonous waste of time.

If there is one thing we all have in common, it’s that we hate waiting. We despise it. In our fast-paced digital world, waiting is a monotonous waste of time.

And yet right before Jesus ascended to heaven, He told the disciples to stay in town and wait on the Holy Spirit. (See Luke 24:49.) He didn’t tell them exactly where to stay, how long they would be there, or what they should do with their time. Nor did He explain what it would be like when the Holy Spirit came.

He just told them to wait. And then He left His followers behind.

The Waiting

Fifty days. That’s the amount of time between Acts 1 and Acts 2. It doesn’t seem like a long time, but it must have felt like forever to the 120 people who put their lives on hold to wait for the Holy Spirit.

But they didn’t wait passively. During those seven weeks, they

  • prayed continuously
  • ministered to one another
  • shared what they had with those in need
  • loved and prayed for one another
  • told stories of Jesus’ life
  • mourned Jesus’ death and
  • celebrated Jesus’ resurrection.

The Harmony

“These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer…” (Acts 1:14 NAS). The KJV states, “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication….”

That’s 120 people repeatedly gathering in one room for 50 days. Not fighting. Not panicking. Not seeking their own interests.

They were waiting in “one accord.” The Greek word for this phrase means “with one mind, one accord, one passion.” The expression combines two thoughts, “to rush along” and “in unison.” This creates a musical image, reminding us that a number of different notes must be combined to create a unique harmony.

All of Jesus’ followers were regular people. They had their own backgrounds, emotions, and beliefs about what God was doing. They didn’t check their individuality at the door when they walked into the upper room. But through prayer, they surrendered their own desires and wills to that of Jesus. As they submitted to Him, they were able to live and worship together, in true harmony.

The Results

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1 KJV).

When the big day came….when God showed up in full force…when thousands were gathered together outside… Jesus’ followers were ready! Because a small group of believers chose to be obedient and wait on the Lord, three thousand people were saved that day. And thus the gospel began to spread across the world.

Our Turn

As Christians, we still wait on the Lord. Individually, we wait for Him to give us guidance, for healing, and for loved ones to be saved. As a Church body, we wait for fresh movements, revival, and for the second coming of our King.

The great news is that we now have the unlimited power of the Holy Spirit within us! If we will allow Him to move in our lives and within the Church, He will direct us to Jesus—with one mind, in one accord, and in complete harmony.

If 120 people could start the Christian movement, imagine what the Church can do today!

Holy Spirit, help us to focus on Jesus. As we set our sights on Him, help us to live in harmony with You and with one another.

Ashley L. Jones of BigSisterKnows.com

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A Great Resource

If this topic interests you, I highly recommend the The Centurion’s Wife. This is an excellent fiction book set within the fifty days that occurred between Jesus’ resurrection and the day of Pentecost. It’s the first in the Acts of Faith series by Janette Oke and Davis Bunn.

How Do We Experience Victory?

victory

“And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” Romans 6:13

Many believers are not experiencing the victorious Christian life. One reason this is happening is because we still try to run our lives. We fail either by submitting to our flesh or by not yielding ourselves to the Master.

Our verse tells us how to walk in victory.

Present—we either present ourselves to sin or to God. It is the same word as in Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

Present yourself. The idea of the surrendered life or yielded life goes completely against our old nature. Our flesh never likes to yield. This is where progressive sanctification comes in. Every day we surrender to the will of the Holy Spirit.

But there is a problem.

A little girl fell out of bed one night and began to cry. Her mother ran into her room picked her up, put her back in bed and asked her little girl, “Honey, why did you fall out of bed?”

The little girl replied, “I think I stayed too close to the place where I got in.”

And that’s why too many fall, get stuck, or never walk in victory. We are staying to close to the world and yielding to our old nature.

Victory only comes when we walk as Jesus walked, completely surrendered, and yielded, presenting ourselves to God every day. Remember He wants us to experience victory.

What does God have for you today?

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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Making Monday Matter

After all the holiday traditions and celebrations have ceased, will the Resurrection continue into the “Monday after” or will it be put up on the Easter shelf in the attic to collect dust until next year?

Over the last 40 days leading up to Easter, we journeyed and labored towards the Cross with Jesus, looking deep within the dark caverns of our soul, begging the Lord to painstakingly search us for every sin stained thought, word and action; constantly reminding ourselves of our desperate need for a Savior. The emotional rollercoaster of Lent prepared our hearts and minds for the spiritual high and victorious triumph that we would finally experience on Easter Sunday when Jesus would conquer sin and death for good! Truly, it is FINISHED!

Hard to beat that kind of emotional experience, right?

Now that the sun has set on Easter Sunday, what will Monday morning bring?

All the Easter eggs have been colored, Easter baskets have been emptied, the egg hunts have ended, the loot has been counted and the candy comas have ensued; while the last of the Easter grass has been swept up and thrown away.  After all the holiday traditions and celebrations have ceased, will the Resurrection continue into the “Monday after” or will it be put up on the Easter shelf in the attic to collect dust until next year?

In our world today, it seems like we can talk about catastrophes and atrocities for hours on end, we can debate politics and slander leaders for countless hours on our Facebook feeds and we can celebrate our national championships with fist bumps and victory dances all day long, without tiring.  But, when it comes to the Easter miracle that would literally save humanity from eternal damnation, we are quick to put the conversation to bed after the last Peep has been enjoyed.

As Believers in Christ’s death and resurrection, “the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you”(Romans 8:11, NIV). I don’t know about you but I think that is definitely something to celebrate and continue the conversation about! We idolize celebrities and professional athletes for their “super power” capabilities yet we forget and all too often marginalize the fact that we have the gift of the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us and that the living Christ has infused us with the same Resurrection power that emptied the tomb on Easter Sunday! I’m not sure there are enough “hearts,” emoticons, “likes,” tweets or shares to do this truth justice.

In 1 Peter it is written, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the death, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.” This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5, NIV).

We have the responsibility as Christ’s church to go far beyond confessing with our mouths that we believe.  It is not enough to give the saving power, transformative nature and hope of the Gospel, lip service.  As followers and ambassadors of Jesus Christ, we are required to put feet to our faith and live in the fullness of Christ’s resurrection!

Resurrection, Rebirth, Rejuvenation, Restoration, Transformation, HOPE!

These words are not limited to Lent and Easter Sunday.  These themes should penetrate every fabric of our being, they should flood every circumstance we face and should determine every decision we have to make.

Christ’s victory on Easter Sunday does NOT end at sunset on Sunday.  Jesus defeated death! Jesus conquered the grave!  Forever. Period. Amen!

We cannot crawl back into our own tombs; enslaved by fear, shackled to complacency and married to the bondage of this world! We serve a living God who has called us to be vessels of a LIVING HOPE, conduits to a broken world who so desperately needs to know of our LIVING SAVIOR whose body was broken on a rugged cross, whose precious blood was shed to cover all of our sins, past, present and future, who breathed his last to unlock our tombs that would allow us to live freely and fearlessly as a result of his resurrection power over eternal death.

Jesus’ last breath on the cross was our first breath into a newly resurrected life in Christ.

So, how can we make Monday matter?

My prayer for you and for me as we begin our post Easter journeys on this Monday morning.

“Heavenly Father, keep the precious blood of your son’s broken body on the cross, fresh in our minds and raw on our hearts; allowing it to permeate into every part of our lives and to drench our souls.  Lord, help us to fully embrace our newly resurrected lives in Christ and make us bold ambassadors of the Gospel, in thought, word and deed.  Precious Jesus, strengthen us with your resurrection power, use our lives for Kingdom work and let our callings be fresh and our purposes be renewed with each new breath.  We pray Father that our Lenten transformations will take flight beyond the temporary of this world.  We pray that our hearts will remain on fire for you and that we will share the Good News with all that we come in contact with and set their souls ablaze for you and your Kingdom. 

Risen Jesus, wake us up!  Do not allow Monday to lull our spirits to sleep! Keep us alert, refresh our weary souls with your living Word and infuse our spirits with the power of your resurrection so we can minister to those in this world who desperately need to experience reconciliation and resurrection.  Father, we are called to take up our cross daily and by dying to self, we will gain our lives in You.  Please give us more of you and less of ourselves.  Help us live in reckless obedience to our Father in Heaven and live a fully reconciled and resurrected life in submission to your Son Jesus.  Make our next steps be all about you Jesus and your Father’s Kingdom work. 

Help us make Monday matter.

Precious blood of Jesus, continue to crucify our sinful nature so we may live cruciformed in your name each and every day.  Saturate our days with Resurrection and show us how to take Easter off of the attic shelf and incorporate its TRUTH into the very air we breathe.  We love you Jesus, we thank you for saving our wretched, unworthy souls and covering us in your grace and showering us with your unending mercies.  It is in your Son’s most precious name Jesus, we pray”

AMEN.

LeRyiah Arant

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Don’t You Remember?

remember

“And they remembered His words. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.” (Luke 24:8-9)

Many years ago, a little village in Austria was about to be taken by Napoleon’s army. It was Easter morning. At dawn the custom was that all the church bells rang out all over the countryside, celebrating Jesus has risen.

When this happened, Napoleon thought the bells were ringing to celebrate the arrival of the Austrian army so he retreated. Napoleon was defeated because he didn’t know what THIS day meant. The small village won a victory without even fighting a battle.

Luke 24:1-12 tells us some of the ladies show up at the tomb. V.10 tells us who 3 of these ladies were by name and then adds simply some others. They went there in defeat. Their Lord and King was dead.

That’s how too many believers live today. Warren Wiersbe wrote, “Too many Christians are ‘betweeners’ they live between Egypt and Canaan, saved but never satisfied; or they live between Good Friday and Easter, believing in the Cross but not entering into the power and glory of the Resurrection.”

If we have already trusted Jesus we know how wonderful the Cross is, then this weekend means victory and power in our lives.

This tomb is empty. Death’s sting and sin’s curse has been mortified by the Master. The Savior sanctified Sunday as the day of worship when He walked out of the tomb. His Word rolled the stone away and set us all free.

You and I are no longer slaves of sin and Saturday. The resurrection relieved the prince of this world from his position of power. Jesus is NOT dead and neither are you.

Live like you never lived before. Take each day as THIS day. The same resurrection power lives in you. No more shortcuts, half-measures, or quick-fixes. You were made for so much more—Don’t You Remember?

Keep Looking Up!

Heaven is closer than you think.

May God bless HIS day.

Pastor Rodney

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The Grave: Life’s Final Fear

the grave

“So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.” Mark 15:46

Death. It comes no matter how we try to prevent it. We are all dying.

The grave is the final fear of us all. The unknown of what’s next has caused people to fear this final stage of life. Even Jesus faced it. Knowing in the garden the cup He would drink overwhelmed Him.

This day, more than any other, the Christian should think of death as the cruel curse Satan has played on all of us. Today, the father of lies has placed man’s greatest fear in “a tomb cut out of a rock” and “rolled a stone against the entrance.”

Sealed up. Never more to be opened. As if to say this thing called death is final.

But to understand death is to examine His death. As the disciples ran in fear they would be next, we look to what His death meant.

Jesus came to live the life we never could and to die the death we will never know. His death on the cross paid the debt of sin and caused the death of sin. We will not know what it means to die IN sin because His death was that price for us.

We don’t linger here because every born-again follower of Jesus Christ died IN Him that day. “And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him” (Romans 6:8). Saturday is here but Sunday will come.

Like every other fear, faith gets the last word. Matthew Henry said, “He whose head is in heaven need not fear to put his feet into the grave.” Our life and death are hidden in Jesus. This final fear will not best us because God gave His best for us.

This is not over!

Pastor Rodney

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From Noon Till Three

noon till three

“At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.” Mark 15:33

A simple sentence. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all mention this darkness that saturated the hill called Golgotha.

We preachers have tried to explain why it was there. One reason the light of the world was dying. Another reason because God couldn’t look at our sin that lay like a filthy slime on our sinless Savior.

From noon to three—it was those three hours that He thought of you and I. It was then that my sin and yours was so heavy on the skin of the Savior that maybe, just maybe, your name and mine crossed the mind of the Messiah.

This old song says it best: https://youtube/eXX1AiljoIE

Think of it. Jesus, the very Son of God, hung sin-soaked in the stench of our sin and He thought of us. He who knew no sin now knew ours. He saw the real us and decided to love us anyway.

Don’t decide you know what He did until you understand what we are. This world that we live in stinks to high heaven with the garbage pile of sin. It’s so filthy God couldn’t look at it, and the darkness hid the very face of God from His own Son.

But, Jesus not only paid for our sin He placed it on Himself. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross” (1 Peter 2:24). He took all our sin away. In the darkness, it wasn’t just forgiven like a debt paid off, it was forgotten like it never, EVER, happened.

By Himself, sin no longer reigned on Earth. The writer of Hebrews says, “When he had by himself purged our sins” (Hebrews 1:3). The word is like the levitical ritual of a cleansed leper who is now pure. It means that the STAIN of sin is washed clean AND the guilt of sin is GONE.

Think of it. In three hours, the Son of God made us clean and completely forgiven.

On this Good Friday, somewhere from noon till three, pick a time and think of Him. After all, you were on His mind.

Keep Looking Up!

Heaven is closer than you think.

May God bless your day.

Pastor Rodney

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Does the Resurrection really matter?

Does the resurrection really matter?

Trust me, this isn’t a lecture about why you should attend church on Easter Sunday or why you should attend church the other 51 days during the year.

The question is: why does the resurrection matter in your regular life? Does it make any difference in your every day, drag-yourself-to-work kind of day that involves paying bills, eating, fighting colds, and visiting the in-laws?

This is the question that will change the destiny of your life, in the temporal sense, as well as the eternal. So let’s get the eternal out of the way right now. That’s easy. Easter is coming, and you’ve got eggs to dye and bunny cookies to make.

The discussion of the resurrection begins with the person who marks the end of B.C. (“before Christ”) and the onset of A.D. Anno Domini (“in the year of our Lord”).

History itself revolves around Jesus, the only human to cheat death of his own free will and power. This is the resurrection everyone must confront at some point in his life–the historical data that there lived a perfect man (who was God’s Son), who died and raised himself to life and returned to heaven.

Mohammed, Ghandi, Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul III, Martin Luther, and Martin Luther King Jr. were all spiritual leaders. But they are all dead. They have tombs where their bodies are rotting, and they have remained powerless to stop the process. Jesus’ tomb, however, sits empty. His resurrection power gives resurrection power to everything else in my life (yes, even in my normal non-Easter life).

Belief in Jesus’ resurrection spearheads all other possible resurrections in our temporal life. You do believe in those, even if you don’t believe in Him. Let me explain.

The sun comes up every morning, inspiring us to productivity, yet sets every night, under the equally important light of the moon, which ushers rest into our hurried lives. We couldn’t stop the power of our solar system, even if we tried. We count on it.

Seeds die so new life can grow. Each spring, flowers burst forth anew, trees re-bud and bear fruit, year after year. The food cycle continues, the animal kingdom functions, all in tandem, all in natural rejuvenation. Nature renews itself without our help.

In every family, the elderly pass away, and the young bring new babies into the world, all pink and innocent and full of wonder. Incredibly, new life follows on the heels of death.

Tragedy brings tears, yet laughter brings joy; even midst heartache, a laugh or a smile can chase away pain. How does this phenomenon work?

And let’s not forget the resurrection of the human spirit–the daring challenge of starting over when all seems lost:  the battered wife who breaks free, the broken marriage that repairs itself, the addict who accepts accountability, the slave who escapes, the abused who disarms the power of the abuser. These are resurrections, and they are the resurrections that defeat God’s enemy, just as His resurrection defeated his enemy 2,000 years ago.

A lifestyle of resurrection chooses change when the status quo would be easier. It believes in the unexplainable without embarrassment because it has lived the transformation. It gives when it feels empty. It loves when it feels hated. It confesses when it sins. It believes when life seems hopeless.

This is the power of the resurrection, every day, from now till eternity. And then it begins again.

John 11:25 “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?'”

Sue Schlesman

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